The Catacombs Catacombs Credits Guide
Nick Tate

From "Alphan From Oz", an interview with Steve Eramo in Dreamwatch #12. August 1995

One of the shows I had done in Australia was a thing called The Chaser in which I played a private investigator. A man who was involved with that show suggested to Gerry and Sylvia Anderson that I was the right kind of person for one of the astronauts in Space: 1999. I went through the general screening process and eventually got the part, but it wasn't the part of Alan Carter - it was his co-pilot. Alan Carter was to have been played by an Italian and the character was to be named Alphonse Catani. Just before shooting started, the Italian couldn't get himself released from a film he was doing in Italy and a last minute juggle took place.

They tried to find somebody to replace him and I was the man on the spot. They had interviewed several people, but the director, Lee Katzin, liked me and felt that my sort of Australian aggression was what they wanted for the series. Sylvia jumped in and said "No, Australians sound too much like Cockneys and we've already got a Cockney in the show," At that point I saw red and, for the first time, I really spoke up for myself.

At first, I was only supposed to be in the premiere episode, but then they offered me another five because things were looking interesting. At the end of the sixth episode they said, "We'd like to sign you up for the series." I didn't have to dig too deeply the character of Carter. He was pretty much all the things I was as a young man - friendly, happy go-lucky and someone who loved adventure and accepted a challenge.

Generally speaking, it was a very happy time on the series. Martin Landau and I became very close friends while working on the show, I liked Barbara Bain as well, a very bright, friendly woman. Both of them are fabulous spellers with great vocabularies and between scenes we used to play lots of word games together. I had a great rapport with the rest of the cast as well - Prentis Hancock, Clifton Jones and Zienia Merton.

One episode I particularly remember was Dragon's Domain. I know it was originally written for me because Christopher Penfold invited me to his house and showed me the first draft of the script. The original story was very much like Alien - this creature kills everybody aboard a space station and Alan Carter is sent there to discover what happened. Because they had Italian money in the series, the Italians wanted one of their lead actors to play a large role in this particular episode, so I didn't get to play the part. Up to that point, the only large roles we'd had were visiting alien villains. We didn't have any visiting nice guys and in their wisdom the producers decided to rewrite the script and replace me with an Italian actor, which was ironic after the way I got the part of Carter in the first place,

I must say that I missed Sylvia greatly because she was a wonderful woman and really understood the show. It was clear to me that when I met Fred he had no love of the original show at all. He invited me back to his house to meet his family, and while we were there told me that his kids were great fans of my character, Alan Carter, which was why he brought me back. I guess I've got them to thank for getting me back into the show!

The show's original concept had been concieved by both Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. When they broke up it really destroyed much of what had been established during its first series. It seemed as if Gerry was prepared to allow somebody else to come in and totally change the humanity Sylvia had brought to the programme.

One of the reasons why I feel Space: 1999 eventually folded was because the second series didn't have the same sense of truth and honesty about it as the first did. That's not to say that I didn't like doing the second series - some of the episodes we did were very good - but overall I think our best shows were those first twenty-four.